Oyster River School District joins school funding lawsuit

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The plaintiffs say the State has not followed its own funding formula, placing an unfair burden on public schools. (Courtesy image)

PETERBOROUGH - The Grantham School District and the Oyster River Cooperative School District will join the ConVal School District's lawsuit filed against the State of New Hampshire over equitable education funding.

The Grantham and Oyster River Districts join seven other co-plaintiff districts: Claremont, Fall Mountain, Hillsboro-Deering, Mascenic, Monadnock, Newport and Winchester.

The plaintiffs maintain that New Hampshire does not meet its constitutional obligation to provide adequate funding for all students. Plaintiffs argue that base adequacy is not sufficient to fund an adequate education and falls far short of funding services, positions, and items that the State requires school districts to provide. In 2019 districts received $3,636 per student in base adequacy.

The Supreme Court of New Hampshire in March rejected the state's requests to dismiss the lawsuit and returned it to Superior Court Judge David Ruoff. Ruoff will hold hearings that will allow ConVal and its co-plaintiffs to present factual evidence that the state underfunds education. An evidentiary hearing is unlikely to be held until summer 2022.

"The State has not followed its own funding formula, and as a result has placed an undue burden on school districts and the communities they serve," Grantham Superintendent Sydney Leggett said. "We are confident Judge Ruoff will hear the evidence and hold the State to its promise."

"New Hampshire pays the lowest percentage of preK-12 education of any state in the country," Oyster River Superintendent James Morse said. "To permit the status quo would mean allowing the State to continue to fail our students."

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